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Trading Alex Cobb would not make the Rays sellers

The Rays record won’t be a factor in their decision to trade Alex Cobb

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Cobb is in the final year of his rookie contract. Only one player has played out his entire rookie contract with the Rays — Melvin Upton, Jr (2004-2012). The Rays have either extended players before free agency (Carl Crawford, James Shields, Evan Longoria and Chris Archer are just a few) or have traded them.

Given this history, the chances that Alex Cobb will be in a Rays uniform on August 1 are slim, as even Cobb seems to recognize.

There is no doubt that Cobb is a tremendous pitcher who has fully earned his reputation as a bulldog of a player with a high baseball IQ.

He has needed to master multiple comebacks from freak injuries as well as Tommy John surgery. This season we have seen him pitch effectively despite having lost his change-up, a key weapon in his arsenal. He has astutely harnessed his other pitches and if he ever regains his change-up, he could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The baseball media seems to get that Cobb has value and could be traded. Many such reports, however, seem to assume that a deadline trade of Alex Cobb will represent a white flag from the Rays front office. That line of thinking dominates reporting such as that of MLB Daily Dish and Jon Heyman.

That is where they are wrong.

I fully expect Alex Cobb to be with another team once August 1st arrives, but the Rays record at the time won’t affect their decision to trade him, whether they’re in the hunt of things or have sunk to the bottom of the division.

For the Rays to stay relevant, they have to trade players like Cobb in order to obtain talent. They’ve done it so many times before, regardless if they were rebuilding or not.

What allows the Rays to stay competitive is a constant flowing of pitching talent rising through the organization and the Rays have no shortage as the trade deadline approaches in 2017. So, if the Rays were to trade Alex Cobb, they’d have their pick of Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell, Jacob Faria, or Jose De Leon (some of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball).

While losing a player of Cobb’s caliber is significant, it’s not clear that the drop off from Cobb to one of the options currently in Durham would be too costly. At the same time, the Rays could pick up the next Ryan Yarborough or Chih-Wei Hu.